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Mao II

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  6,377 ratings  ·  350 reviews
"One of the most intelligent, grimly funny voices to comment on life in present-day America" (The New York Times), Don DeLillo presents an extraordinary new novel about words and images, novelists and terrorists, the mass mind and the arch-individualist. At the heart of the book is Bill Gray, a famous reclusive writer who escapes the failed novel he has been working on for ...more
Paperback, 241 pages
Published May 1st 1992 by Penguin Books (first published 1991)
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White Noise by Don DeLilloUnderworld by Don DeLilloLibra by Don DeLilloGreat Jones Street by Don DeLilloThe Names by Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo ranked
6th out of 15 books — 16 voters
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverThe Corrections by Jonathan FranzenThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Accidental Tourist by Anne TylerThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Pulitzer Prize Finalists
13th out of 68 books — 60 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Don DeLillo is maybe my favorite novelist I would never recommend to anyone. Obviously, I don't mean he's not worth reading, but in order for his words to fulfill their collective mission in life, you have to read him the right way. Please believe me, I'm not some asshole who's saying you have to read him the way I do in how you interpret him or whether you like what you find, but you have to cast aside that "race for the finish-line" tendency we all have in us, and read uncomfortably close if y ...more
Jr Bacdayan
“The cult of Mao was the cult of the book.”

A writer is always said to bring wisdom and knowledge to his readers, to give them guidance, clarity of mind by using stories and instances regardless of truth as exemplars. But can the writer do the opposite and inspire terror, chaos, and bewilderment? It is often said that a writer sacrifices himself for the better fortune of his readers. Writing should be a beloved practice to those who are enamored by words, by language, and sometimes by the ability
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 09, 2015 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
What is the role of fiction writers in world peace? This might as well be the aching question that this book tried to answer. Or offered to answer. That, for me, is what made this book different from other books about novelists as the main protagonist. That, for me, is the reason why I really like this book.

This is my 3rd Don DeLillo and he is still to disappoint. This does not have the in-your-face sadness of his Falling Man (3 days) because it is not about 9/11 but this is not as artsy as the
...more
Szplug
As with Underworld, the opening prologue—based upon an actual occurrence—of the mass-wedding of young and youngish couples of the Unification Church, held in Yankee Stadium and performed by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, is one of the strongest points of the book. DeLillo excels at such portraits set to the page, crisply and potently capturing the atmosphere of this bizarre and fascinating spectacle, with its ordered ranks of veils and ties, the regimented structure and candle-row colors that deli ...more
Brad
I could feel DeLillo grappling with something important as I read this book, trying to deliver something profound, and that feeling made me want to press on, to see where he was going, even though I found most of his narrative a slog.

There were astounding moments. The funeral of Ayatollah Khomeini was gorgeous prose. The discussion between Bill and George about the power of the terrorist to affect change was tense and convincing. Karen's time in the homeless shantytown was poetic and always shif
...more
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
I feel very safe when I read Delillo. I know I am going somewhere worthwhile, and I know that I can trust him to get me there smoothly and gently, that the time will pass and the journey and destination and details will all be taken care of. This novel is, by turns, deeply real and entirely metaphysical, an eloquent portrait of a small collection of individuals and individual drives and pains, and an entirely artificial means for Delillo to explore principles of art and meaning-making within the ...more
Rayroy
Even better upon a second reading, DeLillo books are ones that need demand two readings you read and see things with such vivid clearity, a wedding party escorted by a Russian Tank.

Hey America deal makers or diplomats, " Don't bring your problems to Beirut" or Syria,

The novel can't compete with the war and death on the 24-hour news networks shown without remorse, we relay on the carnage seen on CNN so we feel lucking about drinking our Coke-a-Cola with out bombs falling on our heads feel less
...more
Trevor
Jul 11, 2007 Trevor rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anybody
Shelves: literature
This is the only book I've ever read that I wanted to start reading again immediately after finishing it. I have read his description of two people watching the funeral of the Ayatollah Khomeini a dozen times. I wish I could have written that. The description of the mass wedding at the start of the book is also remarkable.
Richard
I am a fan of Don DeLillo's artistic ambition and his want to address ideas more profound than simple character study. When Tom Wolfe wrote his diatribe against MFA writing programs and accused them of passing along a tradition of meaningless, nonempathetic stories rather than work that addresses morality and social meaning, he undermined his own argument with his own bare-faced self-promotion of _The Bonfire of the Vanities_, a work that may in essence have fit his own ideal but was poorly stru ...more
Drew
DeLillo has always been good at capturing the way people actually talk -- syntax, cadence, etc.-- but his characters don't usually say things normal people say. They are always totally self-aware and generally pretty intelligent. They understand the psycho-socio-philosophical implications of lighting a cigarette; they get the significance of a half-second pause in a conversation. They can read each others' minds, finish each others' sentences. And this can be distracting, can take you right out ...more
sologdin
A mess. Opens with the reactionary premise that “the future belongs to crowds” (16) and descends from there. Something about a reclusive writer and another writer kidnapped by Lebanese Maoists. I suspect there is a concordance here between the artist who wishes to remain out of the public spotlight and the artist who is forcibly hidden. Dunno. The whole thing is kinda gross.

My copy is a first edition, which has a Pynchon blurb on the back--no surprise he likes it, considering P’s own alleged rec
...more
Rafa
Sobre el terrorismo en la era postmoderna. De los mejores del autor.
Mark
The premise: terrorists have taken the place of writers (specifically novelists) as shapers of the public consciousness. Timely subject, nearly fifteen years later. But it takes great skill to make a subject like this dull as dish water. But Delillo, unfortunately, succeeded in doing just this.

We have Bill, a reclusive novelist who has, after decades, allowed himself to be photographed. We have Brita, the photographer, who in my estimation should have been the focal point of the entire novel. A
...more
Sentimental Surrealist
Mao II centers around two events: the emergence of a reclusive author in New York and a hostage crisis in Lebanon. That both events are treated with the glibness and breakneck pace of news cycles isn't, in and of itself, reason to praise this novel, even if you consider that DeLillo does so as a commentary. What makes Mao II great, then, is that he goes all the way with commentary on the media, inviting the reader into the world of the twenty-four hour news rush, making you eagerly await every n ...more
Lane
Maybe this is too well-written to merit only two stars. But mere technical competence shouldn't be enough for me at this point; there are also good unicyclists.

Much of the first half of the novel is taken up by pomo musings—poetic trains of thought about images on TV, how photographs are perfected by the deaths of their subjects, how they alter the memory of their subjects after death. There's also a lot about crowds: we see a sort of anxiety about collectivism experienced by Americans i.e. "ind
...more
Dan
I once read an interview with DeLillo, where he claimed that he often liked to change or rearrange words in his sentences for the sound or effect it created, even if it ended up changing the meaning of the sentence entirely. For me, this just smacks of irresponsibility for someone held in such high literary esteem, and demonstrates his overriding pretentiousness as a novelist.

The characters in this novel speak without any realism, seeming to communicate only in profound aphorisms to pound home t
...more
Hadrian
This is a Typical DeLillo - which is by no means bad. On the contrary.

First, I'd like to say that DeLillo's writing style is as ornate and expressive as ever.

This is more of a rambling discussion, a loose connection of thoughts on crowds, mass movements, the Unification Church, writers, New York, baseball, terrorism, and post-modernism. Sometimes DeLillo goes for multi-page conversations, and sometimes for little aphorisms which you can repeat to impress your friends and sound wise.

Again, the us
...more
Alan Chen
I really like the way the novel began: Bill is a reclusive writer a la J.D. Salinger, Scott his uber fan turn secretary and Karen the ex-moonie are 3 people who live together and are interdependent upon each other. Their back stories are fleshed out when Brita comes to photograph the author. It begins with Delillo's usual quirkiness but seems to go in a traditional narrative where the story expands as we get to know the characters and we develop a sense of who these people are. Then, in a little ...more
Holly
Jun 16, 2007 Holly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2007
I'm in kind of a DeLillo hangover, where the images and ideas are still raw in my brain, and they kind of hurt, but I am better for having read them. In Mao II, DeLillo delves into the world of a renowned author and later links him to terrorism, drawing a comparison between writers and terrorists as societal participants. He is also concerned with the crowd as a cultural function or force. DeLillo's cultural commentary is prescient and spot-on. His observations are unspoken universal truths and ...more
Michael
What can you say? This is a good collection of situations and ideas. It might be the most digestible dose of DeLillo. (Most people would say White Noise, but this is more serious, however you want to take that.) It's not a great story, but there are interesting moments. The opening, set in a baseball stadium, is excellent, maybe even superior to the baseball stadium opening of Underworld, because it's less labored. Yeah, this might even be my favorite DeLillo. It's good to read him when you're w ...more
Nick
Much to my disappointment, I found this mostly a tepid underwhelming experience, especially after being captured and swept away by Underworld. To me, this seems to be a treatise on the importance of author and the novel. But the aggrandized protagonist came across as no more than a writer specializing in run-on sentences whom infused his work with an inflated sense of importance.

Of course I wouldn't have finished it if there was nothing redeeming. I love Delillo's understated yet powerful prose
...more
Andrea
While this doesn't come close to Underworld or Libra, the ideas are extremely enticing. I'm ranking it with Cosmopolisand Falling Man. Ambitious and damn good but not great. Yet DeLillo is still and always an exceptional author for me, and hey, this may not be a home run but the ball is way the hell out there.
Mark Sacha
The most simple way to read DeLillo is to approach his characters' prophecies as direct addresses to the reader, statements made on the meaning of the text in which they appear. Clearly Don intends us to take these ideas seriously, but I'm not convinced he wants us to accept them automatically. His major characters are often satirical archetypes - the media executive, the financial executive, the assassin, the college professor, and here, the reclusive writer - and the things they say, revealing ...more
Adam Cherson
I rate this book a 3.53 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being best. Written sometime around 1990, this book looks tame in comparison to subsequent history. Nevertheless the elements present today are all there: the alienated individualists, the cultists, the idolators, the extremists, the capitalists, the observers, and the hedonists, all melding together to paint a picture of dimness. This is my second DeLillo (Underworld) and my sense is of a writer holding himself back, perhaps for commercial pur ...more
Bogdan
I had pretty high expectations before starting it, as I have seen some extremely appreciative articles about him and his books. I expected a novel in the style of contemporary realism. Instead I got a novel full of interminable descriptions, lack of actual events and also centered on characters thoughts. Just the type of literature that I don't like.

The premise is hard to find. DeLillo probably wanted to write this novel in order to draw attention to several events from contemporary history that
...more
Emily Whelchel
What I Liked
The writing in Mao II is powerful, stunning, and lovely. Each sentence is structured with care and perfection. Descriptions of mass events and roaring crowds are immersing. I don't know if I've ever rated something so low that was written so well, but I could never get into this book. I did not enjoy this read. And I will not come away a changed person from reading it. The profound message that DeLillo labored to pound into the reader didn't wash over me.

What I Didn't Like
I hated the
...more
AC
I'm not a big fan of DeLillo..., he doesn't impress me.
Alice Oseman
I had to read this for my Fictions of Terrorism uni module. I read it in one day. While it is indeed a book about terrorism, it is also equally a book about the unbearable tortures of being a writer. It's about brainwashing and power, about people losing themselves to the crowd. It's about simple and honest human pain.

The writing was stunningly beautiful. I don't feel strong feelings towards books very often, but I did to this one. When I have time to actually read some non-uni books, I plan to
...more
John Lauricella
Coming up on the 25th anniversary of its original publication, Don DeLillo's Mao II continues to be relevant and compelling for any reader interested in the state of the novel in a time of terrorism. It recounts the progress of fictive novelist Bill Gray from carefully-preserved isolation to personal exposure in a hasty attempt at political engagement. Bill undertakes his risky journey in part as a response to his perception that the novel has lost its power to influence human consciousness on a ...more
Gabriel
Bill Gray lleva quince años escribiendo su tercera novela. Reescribiéndola, corrigiéndola una y otra vez y convenciéndose en cada oportunidad de que no está lista para publicarse, a pesar de que ya está terminada. Es un escritor de culto, enfermo, alcoholizado, con predilección por ciertas drogas, conocido por el aura de misterio que envuelve su figura —hace décadas que no se publica una fotografía suya— y por el poder de una obra breve, pero contundente. Vive en una cabaña a la que sólo se pued ...more
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Don DeLillo is an American author best known for his novels, which paint detailed portraits of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He currently lives outside of New York City.

Among the most influential American writers of the past decades, DeLillo has received, among author awards, a National Book Award (White Noise, 1985), a PEN/Faulkner Award (Mao II, 1991), and an American
...more
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“The future belongs to crowds.” 250 likes
“He wanted to fuck her loudly on a hard bed with rain beating on the windows.” 113 likes
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